USGS awards contracts for satellite imagery

The Geological Survey has awarded a third contract in a $15 million program to make commercial satellite imagery widely available to government users.

The contracts make data licenses available ranging from single organizations to public-domain distribution rights with what the agency called aggressive pricing. Each contract has one base year with two one-year options.

The latest contract was awarded to DigitalGlobe Inc. of Longmont, Colo. USGS and its partners will get access to DigitalGlobe's archives containing images of more than 1 million square kilometers. Resolution ranges from 0.6 meters to 2.44 meters. Contracts were awarded in September to Space Imaging Inc. of Thornton, Colo., and Orbimage Inc. of Dulles, Va. Images from Space Imaging and Orbimage have resolutions up to 1 meter.

The contracts are available to other federal and state and local agencies through partnership agreements with USGS, said Tim Saultz, program officer in the USGS Commercial Partnerships Team. Images are used in a variety of programs, from mapping to disaster mitigation and environmental monitoring.

'Before it was mostly handled in single buys,' Saultz said. 'What we are trying to do is coordinate access to this kind of data.'

The contracts are being made under the U.S. Commercial Remote Sensing Space Policy, issued by the president in April 2003. The policy was established to promote the growth of the remote-sensing industry, including both aerial and satellite imaging companies, through long-term commercial relationships while government focuses its own efforts on areas that cannot be provided by industry.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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